How to Build a Brick Retaining Wall

  • 15-30 hours
  • Advanced
  • 2,500-7,000
What You'll Need
Mortar mix
Concrete trowel
Chalk line
Brick jointer
Hammer and nails
Safety glasses
Garden hose
Measuring tape
Concrete mix

Brick retaining walls are an excellent way of ensuring that soil that is on a slope or incline on your landscape stays in place and does not shift or invade an area of your yard. Building a retaining wall is not as difficult as you may think, and this easy to follow how-to guide will show you everything you need to know.

Step 1 - Dig Trench

Use a shovel to dig a trench for the footing of your brick retaining wall. Generally speaking, the footing should be about 3 to 4 times wider than the base of the wall. So, if you're using regular red bricks to make your retaining wall, you should dig your footing trench about 12 to 18 inches wide.

Step 2 - Install Footing

To create the footing for the retaining wall, lay pieces of steel rebar in the trench and tie them together with thin metal wiring. Then, mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow by following the directions on the bag of cement mix. Then, use the shovel to spread the cement mix in the footing trench. Allow the cement to cure and dry before continuing.

Step 3 - Lay First Row of Brick

Mix some mortar, and spread a thin layer of mortar mix on top of the cement footing. Then, start laying your bricks so that they are about 1/2 inch apart and in a straight line. You will find it easier to lay your bricks in a straight line if you use a chalk line to create a straight line on top of the cement footing. Once you have the bricks aligned, go back and fill in the seams between the bricks with mortar mix. When filling the gaps between the bricks, make sure that the mortar is packed tightly and goes all the way up to the top surface of the first layer of bricks.

Step 4 - Continue Laying Bricks

Lay the second row of brick by spreading a layer of mortar mix on top of the first row of bricks. When placing the second row of bricks, place them so that they overlap the seams on the first row of bricks. Make sure that the edges of the bricks are aligned with the first row before setting them into the wet mortar mix. Then, just as you did with the first row of bricks, go back and fill the gaps between the bricks with mortar mix.

Step 5 - Install Cap Row of Brick

Once you have reached the desired height for your brick retaining wall, you will need to install a cap row of bricks to finish the installation. You will install the cap row in the same way that you did the other rows of bricks. However, you should turn the bricks so that they are perpendicular to the other rows or choose another placement method that will differentiate them slightly from the other rows of bricks. Once you have the cap row installed, go over the surface of the top of bricks and make sure that they are free of excess mortar. Then, take a wire brush and go over the entire surface of the wall and remove excess mortar that may have spilled onto the face of the bricks.